Oriental Institute and Robie House, University of ChicagoOn the grounds of the University of Chicago, a world renowned private research college with roots back to 1857, are two amazing places, the Oriental Institute initiated in 1919 for all methods of Oriental studies, and the Frank Lloyd Wright Robie House.
The ArrivalIf you follow a driving app, you'll probably end up going in circles and circles around the places. Just get on University Avenue and park there. The west of the college is like a war zone, the north also, the south and east are upscale remnants of the famous Columbian Exposition in the 1800s.
No tickets were needed to either location for when I went. I just showed up and in I went!
The Oriental InstituteHome to scientific and archaeological studies of the Orient (which back then meant basically anything south or east of Italy), the institute has been involved in excavations and interpretations of language, culture and remains since its inception with almost non-stop exploration of the Far East.
The Institute boasts an astounding collection, one of the rare museums where the ownership and legality of objects is easily traced. In exchange for funding and conducting archeological digs, host countries granted the collection a percentage of the total amount discovered. They also have reproductions of very significant objects which, like the stele bearing Hammurabi's code in the Louvre. I have seen the originals and they are in other blog posts.
Permanent displaysThe rest of the museum has more of the permanent displays from their 100 year history, encompassing 10,000 years of human civilization. The old school halls and displays I find a very cool, like a time traveling experience back to the 1930s which has such an attraction to me.
The ShopOf course as you know, mainstays of my museum posts are definitely the shops. This one is very focused on the types of collections featured with targeted books for sale, plus books published by the institute over the years.
The Robie House - A Frank Lloyd Wright homeIn 1909, Frederick Robie, son of a successful merchant, commissioned Frank Lloyd Write to design a house to be built on the grounds of the Institute. This location was chosen because both he and his wife were graduates of the University of Chicago and the community of alumni there was very close knit.
Sadly he was only able to live there a little over a year before his father passed away, leaving gambling debts amounting to millions in today's money. The company went under and the house was sold off. It passed hands several times, and was almost torn down by the seminary in 1957 before 89-year-old Wright intervened and was able to get a friend to buy the house and donate it to the college.
Robie House is an archetype of the Prairie design movement, and is now a protected property and well kept.
The ShopThe old garage was converted into the shop, containing all things Frank Lloyd Wright and architecture. It also has some really cool designed items (like Wright Prairie stained glass drink tumblers) for your own home.
SummaryNot the biggest places, not the most complete collections, but these are two great things to see, especially if you're looking for something outside of the usual Chicago attractions.
The Institute is reportedly the inspiration for Indiana Jones' alma mater, and is very reflective of the time period in which he was portrayed. I felt it was intimate with the ability to get touching distance from items; I kinda wish I could live there.
The Robie house is just a delightful and amazing private home that you cannot believe is 110 years old when you walk through it. It really has stood the test of time and style.